Chapter 1 - A teen son (Grimm)
The fire was finally blazing, lighting all our faces in a warm orange glow. Above us, the night sky seemed darker than ever, and alive with stars. I leaned in close to the fire, bringing my hands to my face to heat them up. I raise my eyes and look up to Tom, sitting near the van and try to pay more attention to what he’s saying.
“Can you believe it!? We finally did it!”
Emily, being her ever so curious self, cocks her head and waves her hand as she asks “Finally did what?”
“Finally got out. We’re free of the people who tried to control us. Free from school, work, society.”
Of course, it was just like him to be overly dramatic, but I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him. It’s easier just to let him live out his diva moments than it was to try and get him to admit to them. And there’s no way Emily would tell him. Nah, she gets caught up in those moments with him. Hell, she gets caught up in anything that means rebellion or adventure.
Tom turns to the fire again and tosses another branch in, then turns to his bag and reaches in.
“You know, I was going to save this for another day, but considering everything that just happened ...”
He tapered off as he rummaged through his bag, a look of concentration molding his features. All of a sudden his face lit up like he just found a diamond stashed in there.
“There we go!”
He pulls out a clear bottle with a pale blue label reading “ABSOLUTE - LIMITED EDITION - VODKA”. As soon as she realizes what he just pulled out, Emily lights up like the moon.
She reaches for the bottle, giddy as ever, and takes the first swig. Sighing in satisfaction, she goes to hand the bottle to me.
“Here, have some.”
I recoil from the bottle as if it were a bomb on the verge of exploding.
“Me? N-no way.”
Her face deepens in a frown, but instead of handing the bottle back to Tom, she shoves it closer to my face.
“Awe come on! Don’t be a wuss! Do something stupid! It’s not like you’re going to get caught or anything.”
I let out a huge sigh and reach reluctantly for the bottle. Knowing Emily, she won’t let up. So to get her off my back I agree to ONE sip. I take a swig and immediately start hacking up a lung.
“God! It burns!”
Amid my coughing fit, I give both of them my best glare, which probably just comes out looking like a weird squint. When my fit subsides, I look back down to the bottle, as if it might hold the answer as to why I agreed to this stupidity, and freeze. My hands, which are now bone, begin to shake in horror. I get up and rush to the van, dropping the bottle in a shattering clash in my haste. Looking at my reflection in the van’s window, I no longer see myself, but rather a skeleton of who I used to be. I take a long shaky breath, close my eyes...
...and wake up. I sit up straight as a board on my bunk and grab for my throat. The feeling of burning vodka still lingering.
Throat! How’s that even possible!? I don’t even have a throat!
Trying not to think about it too hard, I throw my feet over the edge of the bed. Stretching my non-existent muscles, I get up and reach for the single hook in my crypt (why bother having more when you only own a single piece of clothing) and grab my cloak, throwing it over my shoulder bones. Slowly, I make my way through the halls of the catacombs, taking the time to fully wake up. I make it to the main crypt where I’m met by a crowd of Imps and an annoyed looking dad.
You see, Imps are pesky little fellows that sort of just hang around everywhere. They cause mischief. It’s their thing. Missing socks, misplaced books, items turning up in odd places ... that’s them. They look the part too. Invisible to the human eye, of course, but to us, they look like a weird mix between the mundane (non-seeing/normal human) version of Satan and faeries. Pointy ears, long, thin tail, and usually spikes. The barbs (and sometimes their coloring) is how you differentiate them. They aren’t all the same. Some have spikes on their backs with red skin and grey highlights. Sometimes the barbs are on their head with grey skin and red highlights, and sometimes it’s so drastic of a difference that they have barbs on their knuckles or feet and their coloring will be burgundy and black. Those are the worst ones, the ones who cause the worst mischief. But all of them seem to have one thing in common; they (for some unknown reason) seem to take particular enjoyment in tormenting my dad.
I walk in and immediately realize I shouldn’t have.
“Shoo! Shoo! Go on now! Leave me alone!”
Dad’s yelling his skull off, throwing toes to the imps as treats, trying desperately to get them to leave him alone. I turn to leave as quietly as I can, when he decides to call out to me.
“Grimm! Come here! Help me get these pesky ratbags off me!”
I curse under my breath and turn back towards the Imps. Coming forward, I crouch down and stick my hand down to them.
“Awe, come on dad. They’re just looking for some attention. They’re kinda cute when you think about it. ”
I look up to find him giving me a hard stare. I get up, cross my arms, and cock my head just ever so slightly.
He moves closer to me and grips my shoulder with a bony hand.
“You listen up Grimm, and you listen close. There are three rules to being a Reaper. One, never trust anyone, not even the Imps. Two, never care for anything. Caring only brings pain. And three, and this is the most important of all, never, ever, forget your place in this world. You hear me?”
By the end of his little rant I’m standing tensely, bones in fists by my side, rage coiling through me. Well, not quite like a rage. More like another me is taking over. Almost like an instinct, a feeling residing within my non-existent gut. I take a step back, sockets burning with tears unshed.
“Yeah, I hear you. So what, you don’t care about me? Or do you mean I only bring you pain?”
My dad looks struck, as if those words had torn out a piece of his soul.
“No, Grimm you know that’s not what I meant.”
I’m still moving backwards, this instinct guiding me.
“Yeah, of course not. You’re only quoting the rules right? Following your job. Your place in this world.”
I hiss the words at him, striking him with each word as if each syllable were a ball of poison corroding his bones. He takes a step forward and reaches out, as if in a plea.
“Grimm please, hear me out ... I - ”
“No, dad. I don’t want to hear it. The message was clear enough.”
I turn and run through the catacombs not looking where I’m headed, instinct guiding my turns. I’m not sure how long I run. Only that it was a long time. After all, when you don’t have lungs to breath, cardio is no longer a problem. I burst out of the catacombs through one of the hidden pathways. From there I keep running, blindly making my way across the fields of rocks and overgrown grass. When I finally stop running, sockets still burning from tears I can’t shed, I realize I don’t know where I am. I’m lost. And of course, what better place for the Grim Reaper’s son to be lost, than in the middle of a creepy, haunted looking forest.